Lion Heart

Around this time last year, I started to become more out-going, more extroverted. I’ve chalked it up to working with kids and having to yell and be enthusiastic all the time, but when I re-examine 2015, I just happened to have become exhausted with being silent. I grew weary of waiting for my turn to speak. I knew that I had so much to share with others, and I wanted to be around others more. I grew to love the constant stimulation of different voices, opinions, ideas, and stories. And I came to expect and crave that interaction.

I took the Myers-Briggs personality test several months ago, and got INFP, same as usual. But deep down, I wasn’t 100% okay with that. I felt a strong need to continue asserting myself, to connect with others more.

When I re-took the test a couple of months after that, I got ENFP. Huh. I thought I was quiet, introverted, private. Wasn’t I shy growing up? Didn’t I redirect the spotlight whenever it hovered close to me? I was confused and refused to accept that result (even though I am fully aware and appreciative of how a test cannot define me, that I am more than four letters).

But then, I realized that I shouldn’t let my past define me. Just because I was a certain way before doesn’t mean that who I am was set in stone in that period of time. The people around me accepted this fact so easily that it made me realize that I was clinging onto something that may have been true then but is not now.

Around the same time, I also became more of a Gryffindor. Growing up, I knew that I wouldn’t completely identify with that House, even though I desperately wanted to be bold and brave. I suppose the extraversion and the Gryffindor-like tendency to stand up for what I believe in came into play last year. What’s cool is that my friends have been telling me that it makes sense for me to have Gryffindor as a secondary House, because I do stand up for what I believe in, and I have a strong moral compass that I like to think always points north.

Thinking about these two developments has made me wonder if I’m finally developing that idealistic lion heart that I’ve seen in my favourite characters, especially women. Hermione, Anne, Leslie… they’re so fearless in what they want and what they believe in. They keep pushing forward despite all the obstacles and failures, and I admire that so much. I hope I’m reaching that point. I hope that people compare me to these characters, with the newest addition from Hamilton: An American Musical.

Elizabeth Schuyler-Hamilton, or Eliza as she’s called in the musical, is such a lion heart. I strive to be more like her. She’s fierce in her convictions, she doesn’t take bullshit, and she always asserts herself in every situation that life puts her in. And yet, she remains soft. In the way she sings and speaks, in the way she interacts with her husband, sisters, and everyone else around her. And her line, “look around at how lucky we are to be alive right now” is aligned with my personal philosophy of gratitude and awe.

I love being able to surround myself with inspirational, strong, fierce women, both fictional and real. I love exploring these parts of my identity, especially since I admire these traits in others. Perhaps I could use some falling in love with these parts of myself.

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Brave

I never really saw myself as a courageous person. I’ve always considered myself as shy, quiet, smart, hesitant, lazy, etc. But I always wanted to be that brave person, the one who would dive headfirst into the murky depths of mystery and emerge confident and inspired. I would always (and still do) dream up these scenarios where I would be doing something attention-grabbing and cool and fun and people would see me in a good light – well, a better light than I would see myself. Always a Hufflepuff, dreaming of becoming a Gryffindor.

But let’s change that! Hufflepuffs are brave, too! Their whole house stayed to fight during the Battle of Hogwarts, and not because it was the cool thing to do. It was the right thing to do. (J.K. Rowling said it herself.) And doing the right thing can be one of the most courageous things that you can do.

So I’m going to do something that I’ve never tried before. I’m going to rewrite my story. I’m going to rewrite it in such a way that I am portrayed as a brave young woman.

Here are bits and pieces that I’m going to reword and re-evaluate so that I see myself in a more positive light:

1. I quit my cushy job after 6 months simply because I didn’t want to do it anymore: This is actually something a Gryffindor would do, now that I think about it. I didn’t want to stay seated in front of a computer and be on the phone all day, and I certainly didn’t want to not do anything about helping others who desperately need it. I wanted to find and follow my passion, and I knew that working at that job would not help me with that at all. So, in leaving something that was comfortable in pursuit of something that was quite the opposite, I showed guts.

2. I took that job in the first place: I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Even applying to the job seemed intimidating, and I was not used to the big, cubicle-filled office space that I had first encountered at my interview. And when I met the other hires during training – I felt like an incompetent idiot. I consider myself brave for sticking through all of this, for learning about the legal system, for learning how to actually do my job, and for dealing with the difficult clients. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, and I had no idea how much I could more than handle it.

3. I changed my major from international studies to sociology nearly 4 months into my first year of undergrad: This was another change I made in order to pursue something that I loved. Well, not really “loved.” I knew I would be happier with sociology than with international studies. I had always felt lost and upset after every international studies class that I had. The concepts seemed so distant from me that I had no personal connection with the material, the professor was really intimidating, and I had to read all of these texts by mostly old, white men. (The texts by old, white men thing is unfortunately hard to avoid, as I found out later on.) And so I shifted gears and I did it early on, which I am proud of.

4. I told my first crush how I felt: Which, unfortunately, set the tone for the rest of my life up until now, and not in the way you would expect it to. So, it was the end of grade five, and I would be moving to another elementary school across town. I knew that this would be my only chance to tell the guy how felt. I foolishly and romantically thought that he would feel the same way, and we would start a prepubescent long-distance relationship… or something like that. I was 11. Anyway, it was a Sunday morning when I messaged him on MSN with those three dreaded words: “I like you.” And was immediately rejected. Obviously, I was crushed. I was embarrassed. I lied about everything the next day at school. And after that, whenever I felt so much as an inkling of infatuation or curiosity for another guy, I would squash it. I would deny that I felt that way, or I would not tell anyone or lie that I didn’t have a crush, or I would retreat to my thoughts and my journal and tragically pine for the poor dude. This continued throughout high school and university. I honestly hope that I’ll be brave enough to say those three words again, but until then, I’ll remember that one act of fearlessness that I had at 11. (Even if it was behind a computer screen.)

5. I shared this blog with my friends and am starting to post more frequently: I always wrote for myself. It was a therapeutic tool that I used to make sense of whatever I was feeling at the time, and a way to keep my thoughts and secrets to myself without feeling the need to burst with emotion. But recently, I wanted to do more with my writing, and see where it takes me. Yes, I do have dreams of getting published and having a big(ger) audience, but these kinds of dreams require me to work harder and be consistent. Also, writing (and any kind of art) is such an intimate and revealing way to connect with others. It’s this kind of vulnerability that I would hold at arm’s length (and would make me wish my arms were longer) and ignore. But now? Now, I’m diving headfirst. I’m sharing my thoughts with you, and I hope that you get something out of it. And I know that I’m brave for doing so.